In this chapter we have,
I. The law concerning Nazarites, 1. What it was to which the vow of a
Nazarite obliged him,
2. A remedial law in case a Nazarite happened to be polluted by the
touch of a dead body,
3. The solemnity of his discharge when his time was up,
II. Instructions given to the priests how they should bless the people,
|The Law Concerning Nazarites.
||B. C. 1490.|
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When
either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a
Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD:
3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and
shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink,
neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist
grapes, or dried.
4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is
made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.
5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no
razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the
which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy,
and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.
6 All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he
shall come at no dead body.
7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his
mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die:
because the consecration of his God is upon his head.
8 All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.
9 And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled
the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the
day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it.
10 And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two
young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of
11 And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and
the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him,
for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that
12 And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his
separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a
trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost,
because his separation was defiled.
13 And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his
separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of
the tabernacle of the congregation:
14 And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb
of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one
ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering,
and one ram without blemish for peace offerings,
15 And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour
mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with
oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings.
16 And the priest shall bring them before the LORD, and shall
offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering:
17 And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace
offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread: the
priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink
18 And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at
the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take
the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire
which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.
19 And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram,
and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened
wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after
the hair of his separation is shaven:
20 And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before
the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and
heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.
21 This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of
his offering unto the LORD for his separation, beside that that
his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he
must do after the law of his separation.
After the law for the discovery and shame of those that by sin had made
themselves vile, fitly follows this for the direction and encouragement
of those who by their eminent piety and devotion had made themselves
honourable, and distinguished themselves from their neighbours. It is
very probable that there were those before the making of this law who
went under the character of Nazarites, and were celebrated by
that title as persons professing greater strictness and zeal in
religion than other people; for the vow of a Nazarite is spoken of here
as a thing already well known, but the obligation of it is reduced to a
greater certainty than hitherto it had been. Joseph is called a
Nazarite among his brethren
not only because separate from them, but because eminent among them.
I. The general character of a Nazarite: it is a person separated
unto the Lord,
Some were Nazarites for life, either by divine designation, as Samson
and John Baptist
or by their parents' vow concerning them, as Samuel,
1 Samuel 1:11.
Of these this law speaks not. Others were so for a certain time, and by
their own voluntary engagement, and concerning them rules are given by
this law. A woman might bind herself with the vow of a Nazarite, under
the limitations we find,
where the vow which the woman is supposed to vow unto the Lord seems to
be meant especially of this vow. The Nazarites were,
1. Devoted to the Lord during the time of their Nazariteship, and, it
is probable, spent much of their time in the study of the law, in acts
of devotion, and instructing others. An air of piety was thereby put
upon them, and upon their whole conversation.
2. They were separated from common persons and common things. Those
that are consecrated to God must not be conformed to this world. They
distinguished themselves, not only from others, but from what they
themselves were before and after.
3. They separated themselves by vowing a vow. Every Israelite was bound
by the divine law to love God with all his heart, but the Nazarites by
their own act and deed bound themselves to some religious observances,
as fruits and expressions of that love, which other Israelites were not
bound to. Some such there were, whose spirits God stirred up to be in
their day the ornaments of the church, the standard-bearers of
religion, and patterns of piety. It is spoken of as a great favour to
their nation that God raised up of their young men for
The Nazarites were known in the streets and respected as purer than
snow, whiter than milk,
Christ was called in reproach a Nazarene, so were his followers: but he
was no Nazarite according to this law; he drank wine, and touched dead
bodies, yet in his this type had its accomplishment, for in him all
purity and perfection met; and every true Christian is a spiritual
Nazarite, separated by vow unto the Lord. We find St. Paul, by the
persuasion of his friends, in complaisance to the Jews, submitting to
this law of the Nazarites; but at the same time it is declared that the
Gentiles should observe no such thing,
It was looked upon as a great honour to a man to be a Nazarite, and
therefore if a man speak of it as a punishment, saying for instance, "I
will be a Nazarite rather than do so or so," he is (say the Jews) a
wicked man; but he that vows unto the Lord in the way of holiness to be
a Nazarite, lo, the crown of his God is upon his head.
II. The particular obligations that the Nazarites lay under. That the
fancies of superstitious men might not multiply their restraints
endlessly, God himself lays down the law for them, and gives them the
rule of their profession.
1. They must have nothing to do with the fruit of the vine,
They must drink no wine nor string drink, nor eat grapes, no, not the
kernel nor the husk; they might not so much as eat a raisin. The
learned Dr. Lightfoot has a conjecture (Hor. Heb. in Luc. 1. 15), that,
as the ceremonial pollutions by leprosy and otherwise represented the
sinful state of fallen man, so the institution of the order of
Nazarites was designed to represent the pure and perfect state of man
in innocency, and that the tree of knowledge, forbidden to Adam, was
the vine, and for that reason it was forbidden to the Nazarites, and
all the produce of it. Those who gave the Nazarites wine to drink did
the tempter's work
persuading them to that forbidden fruit. That it was reckoned a
perfection and praise not to drink wine appears from the instance of
They were to drink no wine,
(1.) That they might be examples of temperance and mortification. Those
that separate themselves to God and to his honour must not gratify the
desires of the body, but keep it under and bring it into subjection.
Drinking a little wine for the stomach's sake is allowed, to
1 Timothy 5:23.
But drinking much wine for the palate's sake, to please that,
does by no means become those who profess to walk not after the
flesh, but after the Spirit.
(2.) That they might be qualified to employ themselves in the service
of God. They must not drink, lest they should forget the law
lest they should err through wine,
Let all Christians oblige themselves to be very moderate in the use of
wine and strong drink; for, if the love of these once gets the mastery
of a man, he becomes a very easy prey to Satan. It is observable that
because they were to drink no wine (which was the thing mainly
intended) they were to eat nothing that came of the vine, to teach us
with the utmost care and caution to avoid sin and every thing that
borders upon it and leads to it, or may be a temptation to us.
Abstain from all appearance of evil,
1 Thessalonians 5:22.
2. They must not cut their hair,
They must neither poll their heads nor shave their beards; this was
that mark of Samson's Nazariteship which we often read of in his story.
(1.) This signified a noble neglect of the body and the ease and
ornament of it, which became those who, being separated to God, ought
to be wholly taken up with their souls, to secure their peace and
beauty. It signified that they had, for the present, renounced all
sorts of sensual pleasures and delights, and resolved to live a life of
self-denial and mortification. Mephibosheth in sorrow trimmed not
2 Samuel 19:24.
(2.) Some observe that long hair is spoken of as a badge of subjection
(1 Corinthians 11:5,
&c.); so that the long hair of the Nazarites denoted their subjection
to God, and their putting themselves under his dominion.
(3.) By this they were known to all that met them to be Nazarites, and
so it commanded respect. It made them look great without art; it was
nature's crown to the head, and a testimony for them that they had
preserved their purity. For, if they had been defiled, their hair must
have been cut,
3. They must not come near any dead body,
Others might touch dead bodies, and contracted only a ceremonial
pollution by it for some time; some must do it, else the dead must be
unburied; but the Nazarites must not do it, upon pain of forfeiting all
the honour of their Nazariteship. They must not attend the funeral of
any relation, no, not father nor mother, any more than the high priest
himself, because the consecration of his God is upon his head.
Those that separate themselves to God must learn,
(1.) To distinguish themselves, and do more than others.
(2.) To keep their consciences pure from dead works, and not to touch
the unclean thing. The greater profession of religion we make, and the
more eminent we appear, the greater care we must take to avoid all sin,
for we have so much the more honour to lose by it.
(3.) To moderate their affections even to their near relations, so as
not to let their sorrow for the loss of them break in upon their joy in
God and submission to his will. See
4. All the days of their separation they must be holy to the
This was the meaning of those external observances, and without this
they were of no account. The Nazarites must be devoted to God, employed
for him, and their minds intent upon him; they must keep themselves
pure in heart and life, and be in every thing conformable to the divine
image and will; this is to be holy, this is to be a Nazarite
III. The provision that was made for the cleansing of a Nazarite, if he
happened unavoidably to contract a ceremonial pollution by the touch of
a dead body. No penalty is ordered by this law for the wilful breach of
the foregoing laws; for it was not supposed that a man who had so much
religion as to make that vow could have so little as to break it
presumptuously: nor could it be supposed that he should drink wine, or
have his hair cut, but by his own fault; but purely by the providence
of God, without any fault of his own, he might be near a dead body, and
that is the case put
If a man die very suddenly by him, he has defiled the head of his
consecration. Note, Death sometimes takes men away very suddenly,
and without any previous warning. A man might be well and dead in so
little a time that the most careful Nazarite could not avoid being
polluted by the dead body; so short a step is it sometimes, and so soon
taken, from time to eternity. God prepare us for sudden death! In this
1. He must be purified from the ceremonial pollution he had contracted,
as others must, upon the seventh day,
Nay, more was required for the purifying of the Nazarite than of any
other person that had touched a dead body; he must bring a sin-offering
and a burnt-offering, and an atonement must be made for him,
This teaches us that sins of infirmity, and the faults we are overtaken
in by surprise, must be seriously repented of, and that an application
must be made of the virtue of Christ's sacrifice to our souls for the
forgiveness of them every day,
1 John 2:1,2.
It teaches us also that, if those who make an eminent profession of
religion do any thing to sully the reputation of their profession, more
is expected from them than others, for the retrieving both of their
peace and of their credit.
2. He must begin the days of his separation again; for all that were
past before his pollution, though coming ever so near the period of his
time set, were lost, and not reckoned to him,
This obliged them to be very careful not to defile themselves by the
dead, for that was the only thing that made them lose their time, and
it teaches us that if a righteous man turn away from his
righteousness, and defile himself with dead works, all his
righteousness that he has done shall be lost to him,
It is all lost, all in vain, if he do not persevere,
He must begin again, and do his first works.
IV. The law for the solemn discharge of a Nazarite from his vow, when
he had completed the time he fixed to himself. Before the expiration of
that term he could not be discharged; before he vowed, it was in his
own power, but it was too late after the vow to make enquiry. The Jews
say that the time of a Nazarite's vow could not be less than thirty
days; and if a man said, "I will be a Nazarite but for two days," yet
he was bound for thirty; but it should seem Paul's vow was for only
or, rather, then he observed the ceremony of finishing that vow of
Nazariteship from which, being at a distance from the temple, he had
discharged himself some years before at Cenchrea only by the ceremony
of cutting his hair,
When the time of the vowed separation was out, he was to be made free,
1. Publicly, at the door of the tabernacle
that all might take notice of the finishing of his vow, and none might
be offended if they saw him now drink wine, who had so lately refused.
2. It was to be done with sacrifices,
Lest he should think that by this eminent piece of devotion he had made
God a debtor to him, he is appointed, even when he had finished his
vow, to bring an offering to God; for, when we have done our utmost in
duty to God, still we must own ourselves behind-hand with him. He must
bring one of each sort of the instituted offerings.
(1.) A burnt-offering, as an acknowledgment of God's sovereign dominion
over him and all he had still, notwithstanding his discharge from this
(2.) A sin-offering. This, though mentioned second
yet seems to have been offered first
for atonement must be made for our sins before any of our sacrifices
can be accepted. And it is very observable that even the Nazarite, who
in the eye of men was purer than snow and whiter than
milk, yet durst not appear before the holy God without a
sin-offering. Though he had fulfilled the vow of his separation without
any pollution, yet he must bring a sacrifice for sin; for there is
guilt insensibly contracted by the best of men, even in their best
works--some good omitted, some ill admitted, which, if we were dealt
with in strict justice, would be our ruin, and in consequence of which
it is necessary for us to receive the atonement, and plead it as our
righteousness before God.
(3.) A peace-offering, in thankfulness to God who had enabled him to
fulfil his vow, and in supplication to God for grace to preserve him
from ever doing any thing unbecoming one that had been once a Nazarite,
remembering that, though he was now freed from the bonds of his own
vow, he still remained under the bonds of the divine law.
(4.) To these were added the meat-offerings and drink-offerings,
according to the manner
for these always accompanied the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings:
and, besides these, a basket of unleavened cakes, and wafers.
(5.) Part of the peace-offering, with a cake and wafer, was to be waved
for a wave-offering
and this was a gratuity to the priest, who had it for his pains, after
it had been first presented to God.
(6.) Besides all this, he might bring his free-will offerings, such
as his hand shall get,
More than this he might bring, but not less. And, to grace the
solemnity, it was common upon this occasion to have their friends to be
at charges with them,
Lastly, One ceremony more was appointed, which was like the
cancelling of the bond when the condition is performed, and that was
the cutting off of his hair, which had been suffered to grow all
the time of his being a Nazarite, and burning it in the fire over which
the peace-offerings were boiling,
This intimated that his full performance of his vow was acceptable to
God in Christ the great sacrifice, and not otherwise. Learn hence to
vow and pay to the Lord our God, for he has no pleasure in
|A Form of Benediction Appointed.
||B. C. 1490.|
22 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye
shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,
24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto
26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee
27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and
I will bless them.
I. The priests, among other good offices which they were to do, are
appointed solemnly to bless the people in the name of the Lord,
It was part of their work,
Hereby God put an honour upon the priests, for the less is blessed
of the better; and hereby he gave great comfort and satisfaction to
the people, who looked upon the priest as God's mouth to them. Though
the priests of himself could do no more than beg a blessing, yet being
an intercessor by office, and doing that in his name who commands the
blessing, the prayer carried with it a promise, and he pronounced it as
one having authority with his hands lifted up and his face towards the
1. This was a type of Christ's errand into the world, which was to
as the high priest of our profession. The last thing he did on earth
was with uplifted hands to bless his disciples,
The learned bishop Pearson observes it as a tradition of the Jews that
the priests blessed the people only at the close of the morning
sacrifice, not of the evening sacrifice, to show (says he) that in the
last days, the days of the Messiah, which are (as it were) the evening
of the world, the benediction of the law should cease, and the blessing
of Christ should take place.
2. It was a pattern to gospel ministers, the masters of assemblies, who
are in like manner to dismiss their solemn assemblies with a blessing.
The same that are God's mouth to his people, to teach and command them,
are his mouth likewise to bless them; and those that receive the law
shall receive the blessing. The Hebrew doctors warn the people that
they say not, "What availeth the blessing of this poor simple priest?
"For," say they, "the receiving of the blessing depends, not on the
priest, but on the holy blessed God."
II. A form of blessing is here prescribed them. In their other
devotions no form was prescribed, but this being God's command
concerning benediction, that it might not look like any thing of their
own, he puts the very words in their mouths,
1. That the blessing is commanded upon each particular person: The
Lord bless thee. They must each of them prepare themselves to
receive the blessing, and then they should find enough in it to make
them every man happy. Blessed shalt thou be,
If we take the law to ourselves, we may take the blessing to ourselves,
as if our names were inserted.
2. That the name Jehovah is three times repeated in it, and (as
the critics observe) each with a different accent in the original; the
Jews themselves think there is some mystery in this, and we know what
it is, the New Testament having explained it, which directs us to
expect the blessing from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
love of the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, each of
which persons is Jehovah, and yet they are "not three Lords, but one
2 Corinthians 13:14.
3. That the favour of God is all in all in this blessing, for that is
the fountain of all good.
(1.) The Lord bless thee! Our blessing God is only our speaking
well of him; his blessing us is doing well for us; those whom he
blesses are blessed indeed.
(2.) The Lord make his face shine upon thee, alluding to the
shining of the sun upon the earth, to enlighten and comfort it, and to
renew the face of it. "The Lord love thee and cause thee to know that
he loves thee." We cannot but be happy if we have God's love; and we
cannot but be easy if we know that we have it.
(3.) The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee. This is to the
same purport with the former, and it seems to allude to the smiles of a
father upon his child, or of a man upon his friend whom he takes
pleasure in. If God give us the assurances of his special favour and
his acceptance of us, this will put gladness into the heart,
4. That the fruits of this favour conveyed by this blessing are
protection, pardon, and peace.
(1.) Protection from evil,
The Lord keep thee, for it is he that keeps Israel, and neither
slumbers nor sleeps
and all believers are kept by the power of God.
(2.) Pardon of sin,
The Lord be gracious, or merciful, unto thee.
including all that good which goes to make up a complete happiness.
III. God here promises to ratify and confirm the blessing: They
shall put my name upon the children of Israel,
God gives them leave to make use of his name in blessing the people,
and to bless them as his people, called by his name. This included all
the blessings they could pronounce upon them, to mark them for God's
peculiar, the people of his choice and love. God's name upon them was
their honour, their comfort, their safety, their plea. We are called
by thy name, leave us not. It is added, and I will bless
them. Note, A divine blessing goes along with divine institutions,
and puts virtue and efficacy into them. What Christ says of the peace
is true of the blessing, "Peace to this congregation," if the sons of
peace and heirs of blessing be there, the peace, the blessing, shall
rest upon them,
For in every place where God records his name he will meet
his people and bless them.